Good Old Reviews
Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow - Super Effective

Marshall Lemon | 5 Mar 2016 08:00
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Most Pokemon types have certain strengths and weaknesses when facing other types in combat - Water Pokemon have a distinct advantage against fire, but fare poorly against Grass or Electric enemies. You'll quickly learn to assemble Pokemon loadouts which reflect this rock-scissors-paper gameplay, although you'll still need to be ready for curveballs the game throws at you. You might need to grind through some battles to prepare your Pokemon for tougher boss battles, but even then combat is so engaging and fast-paced it rarely feels like a chore. In other words, it's a perfect RPG formula for a handheld device, which is why rumors about smartphone versions have swirled ever since the boom in mobile devices.

So let's say you've never played a Pokemon game, bought all three classic versions, and are trying to decide which one to start. Well, I'm sorry to say you probably just wasted $20. Much like Pokemon's generational sequels, Red and Blue are exactly the same game, right down to dialogue and map layouts. The only changes come down to a mere 11 exclusive Pokemon, which players would obtain by trading Game Boys using a Link cable. Thankfully, Nintendo adapted this process to the 3DS' wireless capabilities, so as long as a friend purchased the opposite version it's possible to complete your Pokemon collection.

Yellow is a special edition with a few new twists to Red and Blue. Its biggest selling point is that Pikachu is your starting Pokemon, and he'll follow you without retiring to Pokeball storage. It was a charming feature back in 1998, when the Pokemon anime was popular and Pikachu was the mascot for the series. Today, it feels a little too much like a gimmicky cash grab, especially during the opening cinematic where Pikachu surfs, rides balloons, and tries a little too hard to be endearing. It certainly doesn't help that Pokemon Yellow was an early Game Boy Color title, with garish simplistic colors that haven't aged well compared to the classic black-and-white version.

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To Nintendo and Game Freak's credit, Pokemon Yellow does introduce some new mechanics. Yellow was the first game to experiment with Happiness systems, where your treatment of a Pokemon is reflected in various ways. In Yellow's case, Pikachu becomes friendly or angry with you based on how well you treat him. Unfortunately, the game can be a little vague on what good treatment is, leaving players to figure it out the hard way. Outside of winning a single Pokemon for free, his happiness doesn't change gameplay, and generally feels like an afterthought to the game. Still, it can be charming to "talk" to a happy Pikachu and see a charming image displayed.

All the same, it's really impressive to see how well the 3DS versions have recreated the original Game Boy experience. Nintendo did a great job of adapting the wireless function for trading and multiplayer battles, which was a major factor fueling Pokemon fan communities that thrive today. What's more, Nintendo faithfully recreated infamous glitches which became series legends, up to and including this glitched encounter or unlocking the hidden 151st Pokemon, Mew. If these re-releases were any more authentic, you'd be able to hook your 3DS to a Nintendo 64 to use your collection in Pokemon Stadium. Anyone with fond memories of the classic games - or doesn't have an original Game Boy any longer - will absolutely get a kick out of these collections.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to the tall grass. All those Pokemon aren't going to catch themselves!

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